by Michael Buffalo Smith
The kingpin behind the premier online Southern Rock radio station known as allsouthernrock.com is Brad Schnabel, a die hard Southern Rock fan from Mesquite, Texas. Brad started the All Southern Rock radio station and chat room over five years ago, and it has become a favorite site to “tune in to” for Southern Rock fans all over the world. We sat down with Brad for a long distance, e-interview.
Brad, how to you start this thing called allsouthernrock.com?
I bought the domain in November, 2003 so we just celebrated our 5th anniversary. We started out playing all Southern Rock music, and then we had to start playing only un-licensed music (or get signed waivers) - not to avoid licensing fees but because if we did pay licensing fees we could no longer be able to have live DJ's because of the DMCA play-rules which regulates how the music is played. That states that no requests can be played within an hour of it being made and we couldn't play whole albums. That would totally kill everything we were about, so we made the change in ‘06. By fall of ‘07 we where slowly dying, then iTunes listed us in their internet radio directory which gave us a new lease on life. We currently have around 10 -14,000 daily connections to our steam. We started our Indy life with 400 songs in our database. We're now at 3624 songs.
Tell me about the DJ’s that volunteer for you.
Our DJ's are from all over the planet, we’ve got one that takes requests from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and we have had a soldier in Iraq taking requests. We have well over 40 DJ's. Unlike most online radio stations, all of our music is served from a dedicated server that's on the internet backbone and the DJ's just log into a website and load songs through a database script. This way anyone can DJ for us, no special training or software know-how is needed and they can have any kind of internet connection. They just search and click and it will be entered into the queue for play in the order they have chosen. The system picks random songs if the queue is empty.
The DJ's at ASR are special, they’re our main supporters, they keep us going and are always our biggest money contributors. Without them, ASR would be nothing.
I suppose you use quite a bit of bandwidth, huh?
We're currently serving 8000 gigabytes a month. ASR maintains three dedicated servers.
Brad (center) with members of Black Eagle 7.
How do you feel about the state of Southern Rock today?
I really didn't know there was "Southern Rock Of Today" till we went indy. Yes, I knew there was a few artists keeping it alive but most big southern rock artists like Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, and several others have been quoted saying that they are opposed to the term "Southern Rock" and what it represents. In my mind they where trying to kill Southern Rock for the future and I see them as anti-southern rock even though I think they did it to distance themselves from any racial type of stereotyping, but will they change their tune if it becomes "in" again? I think we'll get an opportunity to see. I have no respect for someone that calls themselves an "artist" and will just go with the waves of popular opinion (just for the money), that isn't an artist to me. There are some bands that are pro-southern rock, but unfortunately it's the smaller unknown groups.
The term Southern Rock is going through a change. It's slowly becoming less of a "dirty word". I'm seeing less of the avoidance terms like Americana, roots, country rock, blues rock, or whatever other terms their using that just mean southern rock. That's why I like GRITZ - they call it what it is.
Europe is really starting to embrace the southern rock sound and I believe that it's just going to grow
The Southern Rock of today is there but unknown at the moment. Our goal is to make it known. We do play some unlicensed classics but just listen to an hour of ASR and you'll be introduced to several artists that you never heard of that will blow you away. I get comments all the time from long time southern rock fans that are amazed by how much good unknown southern rock is actually out there that cannot be heard any where else but ASR.
The state of Southern Rock today? I'd say it's alive & well and growing daily.
Do you see Southern Rock influence in the new country music?
I see country turning into Southern Rock. Before long there will be no difference. Then there will have to be classic country for the old purists.
Who are some of your favorite new Southern Rock bands?
My personal opinion isn't worth crap and I never involve it in the station. I never judge the artists or their music. They get on the station by believing they belong here, not by my opinion of their music. Now, that said...
My personal favorites are always the ones that are not afraid to mix it up with us normal people. So the groups that are active on the site are always going to be at the top of my list.
What bands/songs get the most requests?
Actually, that changes often. Our listeners love new music, so it's normally our new stuff that gets the most requests. We do have a weekly top 10 list and a all-time top 100. Our top band of all time (according to the top 100 list) so far is The Gypsy Sons from Virginia. Believe it or not, our classic bands like Skynyrd, Outlaws, Marshall Tucker, etc., very seldom get on the weekly top 10, that doesn't mean they don't get air, just means the new stuff is much more requested.
I just discovered the RSS feature on your site. Now the player pops up on my Google home page. Has that helped bring more visitors?
I'm sure it hasn't hurt but our main bringer of listeners is iTunes. We are also on several cell phone listening services like Nokia so it's pretty hard to tell exactly where some of the listener connections originate from. We also have a live tag that shows what's currently playing on the station that is on many message boards & forums, it allows them to connect to the stream without leaving the host website.
Tell me about what drives you to maintain a website like this.
My main drive now, five years down the road, is that many people are dependent on ASR, not only for the music but the community and comradery. I just wouldn't feel right about letting it go away. Don't get me wrong, I think about giving up almost every end of the month when it looks like we’re not even going to get close to making our goal. But it's not always a burden, it has been my reason to get up every morning and it has brought me many friends and has given me a creative outlet and an opportunity to give back to the music community I've always loved.